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Call for Pacific Islanders to oppose Bradford Bill

3 MARCH 2007

Call for Pacific Island Groups to oppose Bradford Bill Before Too Late

Family First is calling on Pacific Island groups, churches, and communities to speak up against Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking Bill before it is too late.

“The latest opinion by a leading New Zealand QC adds weight to Family First’s warnings that the Pacific Island Sector will be particularly at risk from unwarranted and inappropriate intervention by Police and CYF who are responding to complaints about smacking – complaints made either by members of the public, or by children themselves who have resented their means of correction or denial of privileges,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

In revelations this week:
• Pacific Island people will be targeted by social workers and groups who want all physical discipline, including what are cultural practices of Pacific island families, banned.

A Queens Counsel (QC) Peter McKenzie says (Opinion released 2 March 2007)
“A law which confers a wide discretion on the Police (is) a danger to those sections of the community with which the Police are required to have frequent dealings. Regrettably, the statistics in New Zealand (as elsewhere) show that it is in the lower socio-economic areas of the community that Police activity is most frequent. There are families in that section of the community who will be known to the Police and complaints directed at them may well be treated with more vigour than in a so-called respectable suburban area.”

Unfortunately, because of the Pacific Island emphasis on suitable discipline, which is not child abuse, and the socio-economic status of many of this community, the Pacific Island community are far more at danger from this legislation than other groups.

• The Government has confirmed Family First’s argument that any cases of suspected or reported smacking will have to be investigated if section 59 is repealed in its current form.

• Even removing a child to “Time Out” or to their room will constitute an assault by the parent on their child

• Foster care parents, and families where there are marriage difficulties or conflict will be at greater risk of investigation if a complaint is made

Peter McKenzie QC says “Another group which is vulnerable in this area is foster parents and other caregivers against whom complaints may be made by children who have resented their means of correction or denial of privileges. In cases involving the public interest (caring for children or other persons), the Police may consider more readily that a prosecution be brought.

Spouses or partners in a situation of marital and domestic breakdown are more vulnerable to complaints by an aggrieved or vindictive spouse or partner. If there has been Police intervention in other respects, there may be a greater preparedness to prosecute.”
“Most concerning in this opinion is the likelihood of disgruntled children making complaints against their parents because of resentment against correction, ‘time out’, or denial of privileges,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Family First says that this Bill is dangerous law for all New Zealand families, but particularly for the Pacific Island community. It will do nothing to deal with the real causes of child abuse which are found in family breakdown and dysfunction, substance abuse and poverty and stress.

“Pacific Island families and leaders must make their views known to their MP’s before it is too late,” warns Mr McCoskrie.


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